A Pride engagement, Halloween theme and a McDonald’s wedding meal – these Lanarkshire brides had the alternative wedding of dreams

Melissa Russell & Shannon McKenna

31st October 2020

Venues | Chatelherault Country Park, South Lanarkshire and McDonald’s, Motherwell
Photography | Sean Carroll Photography

two brides wearing black and sharing chips at McDonalds Halloween wedding

“Shannon and I were together only six months when we got engaged on 10th August 2013 during Glasgow’s Pride (also the day our canine baby was born). We didn’t get married until seven years later.

We hadn’t really planned on getting married at all, to be honest, but a family illness and the coronavirus pandemic motivated us to make it happen – and we arranged it all in just 12 weeks!

Our first decision was our ceremony venue. Shannon is friends with Christine Slowey, who happens to be the wedding co-ordinator at Chatelherault. When Christine called to say there had been a cancellation on our favourite day of the year, 31st October, it seemed like a dream come true. However, planning a wedding in three months in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t without its challenges…

We had two reception venues cancel due to the ever-changing lockdown restrictions. We were prepared to stick to having solely a ceremony until the franchise owners of McDonalds in Motherwell (where I work as a manager), offered us the use of the restaurant. Kate and Kenny went above and beyond for us to have a safe and socially distanced wedding meal we would never forget.

They organised a personalised poster on the menu board outside announcing our wedding and had a local bagpiper pipe us into the restaurant. We were treated to proper plates and cutlery, and they even had our favourite discontinued meal items brought back for us! I have yet to hear the end from our guests about how much they loved their McDonald’s food and personalised menus.

We both have large families, but we were limited to 20 people in total attending. We set up a private group and live-streamed the whole event to everyone that couldn’t be there. All our guests got involved by posting comments, photos and videos. A few even ordered McDonald’s themselves and drank Prosecco in their back gardens!

Celebrant Julie Reid of the Caledonian Humanist Association is a friend of Shannon’s, so we couldn’t think of anyone better to lead our ceremony. The ceremony was one of the highlights of the day. Shannon’s personalised vows had us all laughing and crying – she is very witty and has a way with words.

We walked down the aisle to a beautiful song called She Keeps Me Warm by Mary Lambert; signed the register to Of Monsters and Men’s Mountain Sound and left the ceremony to the sounds of Ready To Go by Panic! At The Disco.

We were excited to ditch all the stereotypical wedding traditions ­– it’s just not who we are – but we believe we have created a new one to pass on: we sealed our vows with a toast of Transylvanian moonshine!

We’d always wanted an alternative wedding so getting married on Halloween meant we could really go to town with the details. I wore dark, dramatic jewellery with my Grecian ASOS wedding dress, while Shannon wore a gothic rock ‘n’ roll-style dress, complete with black raven-feathered cape. The rest of the bridal party wore black too.

We had so many other spooky and magical touches, most of them DIY. We decorated Chatelherault’s ceremony room with Harry Potter owls, hanging candles and flying envelopes.

I styled all the flowers using black and white roses and green ivy vines wrapped in brown vintage newspaper and even created a 4ft flower wall emblazoned with McKENNA (our married surname).

Our favours were also homemade: small brown bags with personalised tags filled with ‘hangover kits’ and bottle openers shaped like antique keys.

It was important to us both that Sean Carroll Photography was able to do our wedding photos. We studied photography together, so I knew his style would produce the intimate images we were looking for.

Top tip: “It doesn’t need to be big, elaborate and insanely expensive to be a stunning, perfect day to remember. We spent £3,500.”

Celebrant Julie Reid, Caledonian Humanist Association
Wedding meal McDonald’s, Motherwell
Melissa’s dress ASOS
Shannon’s dress overseas supplier
Wedding transport Glasgow American Car Club
Wedding cake gift from friend
Personalised wedding masks Pauline Munro
Shannon’s hair and makeup Ruth Donald and Adele Robertson (hair) and Keira McClure (makeup)
Melissa’s hair and makeup Gayle Murray and Caitlin Conroy at Gayle Murray Hair and Makeup Lounge

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